Don't waiver on concerted crime fighting
Guyana Chronicle
August 30, 2003

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THE incidents of robberies and drive-by shootings that have occurred in the past several weeks ought to jolt us out of the belief that crime in Guyana has reduced to tolerable levels.

Don't get us wrong. Life has been returning to normal since the Joint Services operations successfully cordoned off and searched the criminal nests in Buxton and apprehended a number of suspects.

Buxton is no longer under siege. Nor are neighboring villages. Besides, passing through Buxton is the way it used to be, even though, understandably, some commuters are still a bit apprehensive.

All the same, it would be na´ve of anyone to think that our law enforcement agencies can get rid of crime altogether, any more than the Joint Services' success in Buxton should lull any one of us into a sense of complacency.

Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj did warn us in June that those who survived the Buxton operations would slip away to other areas, in some instances back to their hometowns, and were more likely than not to continue in their criminal ways after a while. That warning still holds.

Another well-made point is that prison-escapee gang members aren't the only ones responsible for the perpetration of crime in the country. Lots of criminal-minded persons, fed with the notion that poverty breeds crime, operate on their own.

As such, law enforcement and their partners, the Community Policing Groups, should never waiver in their fight against crime.

Incidents such as the recent drive-by shooting in Hadfield Street and last Wednesday's break-in at Digambar filling station at Vreed-en-Hoop must impress upon us that no percentage of violent crime should be considered "tolerable."

While some fortunately dwell in quiet, stable neighborhoods, other communities may be facing a crime threat. Others, still, may have gone through or may be experiencing a rash of break-ins and other criminal activities.

We've always maintained, as do the Guyana Police Force itself, that crime fighting is everybody's business.

In communities where deprivation is acute, therefore, business people can help manage programmes and raise funds; civic activists can round up local agencies to meet needs like recreation, vocational education for early school leavers, and even self-help housing for low-income families.

Many things help cause crime, violence, and drug abuse problems in a community. Case studies in the U.S. identify graffiti, vandalism, loitering and littering as warning signs that crime and violence may be present or may be reaching a neighborhood soon.

Some areas are commendably establishing Community Policing Groups. That is one big way to counter fear.

Another idea is for non-community policing groups to work with the police to set up a system that lets people remain anonymous and still report crimes. In the end, taking a stand will see everyone gaining as crime is slowly but surely driven out.

It is encouraging that the police are regaining public credibility, that more and more people are coming forward with tips on solving crimes, and that the force's recruitment drive is showing reasonable results.

Fighting crime is made tougher by the support criminals receive from antagonistic groups. Some people have decided that because the party in power isn't their favorite, anything that anyone does that conflicts with conventional wisdom is cool.

Those of us who are for law and order and peace and security can win the war on crime by remaining ever vigilant and supporting the police and community groups dedicated to keeping Guyana safe for its citizenry.

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